Tubers finding it difficult to stay afloat

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— Tubers may have to work a little harder to make it down the Yampa River, but that isn't stopping hundreds from taking the float while it is still permitted.

Talks between city officials and tube providers have begun about restricting the activity.

"It feels great," Meghan Hanson said. She and her friends tubed the downtown portion of the river Saturday. She said even though there were some areas of the river they had to push through because of low water levels, the ride was still worthwhile on a hot day.

Peter VanDeCarr of Backdoor Sports said tubing is still enjoyable, despite lowering water levels. He said he would advise any tubers over 200 pounds that they may have difficulty floating in all spots of the now shallow river.

VanDeCarr said the river water has been above 75 degrees for a few days, a temperature that can be dangerous for the river ecosystem.

"The water temperature has been above a confirmed stress level for fish," he said. "We're probably going to shut down on Monday. We'll be back open in a few days hopefully."

VanDeCarr said reopening would depend on the weather. Persistent heat may be bad news for tubers.

He said that all the tube providers in Steamboat Springs plan to cooperate with Steamboat Parks and Recreation Department officials. VanDeCarr said preserving the river's ecosystem is the first priority.

Chris Wilson, the director of parks, recreation services and open space for the city, said discussions about discontinuing recreational use of the Yampa have begun with commercial providers in town.

He said a city ban on river use this late in the season probably is unlikely. However, similar to what happened last summer, Wilson said that tube providers might choose to stop renting tubes in the best interest of the river.

Wilson said tubers have great effects on the ecological health of the river.

"It's not so much the water levels (that the tubers disturb)," he said. "It's the pollutants and the damage to the river bottom."

Wilson said recreational use of the river can raise the water temperature.

The city is doing research about how sustainable the river ecosystem can be with recreational use. This could lead to more tubing restrictions in the future, Wilson said.

If businesses and officials do decide to discontinue tubing services for the summer, signage will be posted along the river to notify tourists of the potential threat they could pose to the river, Wilson said.

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